Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to use Personality Profiles to Improve the Recruiting Process

Its no wonder that personality profiles have become a standard assessment tool in the hiring process for many companies. Hiring managers and recruiters know full well that resume screening, interviews and reference checks are not a very reliable or objective means for making hiring decisions. Recent surveys of HR executives show that up to 80% of organizations are now using personality profiles to improve hiring decisions. The same surveys also list performance management and succession planning as top priorities for these organizations. This indicates that the personality profiles are also being used for hiring decisions, and employee development as well.

All that being said, some organizations continue to struggle with hiring, even though they use assessment tools in their hiring decisions. The most likely reason for that is simple: any tool, be it an assessment tool or a hammer, needs to be in the right hands to get the great results. Used improperly, both of these tools can hurt you. The personality profiles are complex tools. And the information they provide are deep and not always easy to interpret. We humans are deep, complex creatures ourselves. To make their tools easier for HR professionals to use, the tool providers have simplified the computer generated reports to improve readability. The down side to simplicity, however, is that simplicity diminishes the depth of information and the power of the tool. Less granular means less detail. This often creates challenges to drawing useful and accurate conclusions that are helpful in the workplace.

The answer is that HR must work with an expert assessments practitioner who has deep experience in the interpretation of the personality profiles, and can effectively impart the valuable takeaways to HR personnel. The practitioner administering the assessments to candidates and employee makes all the difference in the world. They should be certified in the use of the assessment tool, and they should be experienced in imparting insight and value. The practitioner create a reliable profile of the candidate, or an effective action plan for employee development. Some assessments provide many raw scores, some of which may or may not contradict other scores on the same assessment. A certified assessments practitioner will know how to address some of the extraneous information on the computer generated report. In addition, they will be familiar with trends and patterns that indicate certain strengths or blind-spots in the individual. Most importantly, two individuals with very different personality profiles can still both be successful in the same role. The practitioner will help identify these scenarios so that HR does not overlook and miss out on great talent.

There are countless different personal assessment tools available on the market, and they vary significantly in what aspects of the personality they measure and how they measure those. But none of these tools measure every one of the human dimensions necessary to reflect a complete picture of the individual. The reality is that it’s just not possible in a single tool, because we humans are just too complex. In utilizing personality profiles, the goal is usually to “measure” the individual in their entirety. This includes expected behaviors, innate talents, cognitive abilities, decision-making biases, emotional intelligence, motivational drivers, and character. We also need the results to be accurate and reliable. That is a lot to ask from a single tool and a computer generated report. The only way of getting “how” a person behaves, as well as what drives those behaviors, and why they are drivers, is by utilizing more than one tool. The US Department of Labor also recommends a "whole person" approach wherein companies never rely on any single instrument for developmental or hiring decisions.

Personality profiles can be categorized into three separate categories:
1. Analysis of behavioral styles.
Marston’s DISC and Myers-Briggs are two of more popular behavioral assessment tools on the market. The DISC test does more quantifying than the Myers-Briggs test, and has gained in popularity in the last number of years. The DISC test creates a profile of how an individual behaves by reporting quantified behavioral attributes across the four DISC dimensions. This tool to be especially powerful for investigating internal conflicts within teams. Hiring managers will use these results to judge culture fit, but ascertaining culture fit is not as simple as that. Too often this tool is used in the recruiting process as the only profile for candidate assessment, which is not an ideal approach. It’s far more important to measure cognitive skills and talents and motivations than just behaviors. The other challenge is that the results of the behavioral tools can be skewed by the candidate by giving “expected” responses during the assessment process.

2. Analysis of cognitive abilities and talents.
This is one of the most important aspects of the candidate assessment, and is also powerful for employee development as well. These tools are about measuring talent and potential. The best tools will measure how well individuals are evaluating their surroundings, their judgment clarity, and decision-making focus. The result is a strong profile of the person’s communications skills, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, work ethic, engagement levels, and leadership potential. These tools are useful for candidate assessment, but even more powerful for talent management and succession planning.

3. Analysis of values and motivational drivers
These tools are invaluable for pre-employment. Some of the best tools are based on the Spranger-Allport work, and they identify and quantify the levels of motivation of an individual across seven motivational dimensions. They provide clarity on where the drive and passion is in an individual, and so it helps ascertain how well a fit someone is for their role and career direction. This is one of the most important assessments to use when trying to ascertain the likelihood for success of any individual in a given role. It is also useful in the midst of the talent management lifecycle to ensure that the individual is on the appropriate career path within your organization.

Respectively these can be referred to as the How, the What, and the Why of employee performance. By measuring each of these domains, one can obtain a very clear and accurate representation of the individual’s behavioral style, as well as a reliable predictor of their fit to a job role and how well they will perform. Best of all, when used in the development/coaching context, these profiles create a strong self-awareness for the employee that facilitates growth and development. But it is very important to note that it is very possible to have two individuals with very different assessment profiles that are both capable of succeeding in the same role. Your assessments practitioner will have the expertise and experience to identify those and ensure great hiring decisions.


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